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Homemade French Bread (aka possibly the cheapest bread ever)

Two loaves of homemade French bread in a basket.

This is probably the most inexpensive bread I make because of its simple, short ingredient list…water, salt, sugar, yeast, and flour.

Water and salt are practically free, a tablespoon of sugar costs pennies, and flour isn’t very pricey either.

This recipe is not going to turn out artisanal loaves that rival what you’d get in a French bakery…this bread is more like a heartier version of what you’d buy in your local supermarket.

5 ingredient homemade french bread

If you’d like to make your loaves more nutritious, you can substitute whole wheat flour for part of the white flour (I wouldn’t sub more than 50% of it, personally).

I use this bread recipe quite often…we eat the loaves when they’re fresh and hot, I use the dough to make bread bowls, and I make panini sandwiches, French Bread pizzas, and garlic bread with extra loaves.

How to make French Bread Pizza

Because of this, I rarely make one loaf! It’s just as easy to make two, and then you can freeze one to use later.

Since the dough has very little sweetening and no added fat (both of which act as preservatives), you’ll want to use or freeze your bread within a few days to prevent mold.

super cheap homemade french bread

Here’s a step by step process with photos, and a printable recipe is at the bottom for you!

First, combine the yeast and flour in a mixer bowl.

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Add water and beat for 3 minutes.

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Beat in enough additional flour to make a soft but kneadable dough.
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Turn dough out onto floured surface…

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and knead for 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

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Place in bowl, cover with tea towel, and let rise 45 minutes (an hour if your house is cold).
Punch dough down and roll into a long rectangular shape.

Starting from the long end, roll up jelly-roll style.

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Place seam-side down on a greased baking sheet, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled. How long this takes will depend on the climate of your house.

(The loaves below are obviously not risen yet).

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

A hot, fully-preheated oven is key for a brown crust, so don’t be tempted to default to 350 °F and do wait patiently for your oven to get to temperature.

This next stop is optional…it just makes for a shinier crust:

Whisk one egg white with one tablespoon of water until slightly foamy. Using a pastry brush, gently brush beaten egg white onto loaves.

Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal slashes on top of the loaf.

These loaves are a bit over-risen…I got busy doing something else and forgot about them. Oops.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.

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homemade french bread

Easy Homemade French Bread

Yield: 1 loaf
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

This bread is ridiculously delicious despite being made of very simple ingredients. Double the recipe and freeze the extra loaf.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4-2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pkg. (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (120° F)

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine 1.5 cups flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add water and beat for 3 minutes. Beat in enough additional flour to make a soft but kneadable dough.
  2. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead 3-5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place in a bowl, cover with a wet tea towel, and let rise 45 minutes to an hour, or until doubled.
  3. Punch dough down, turn out onto counter, and roll into a long rectangular shape. Starting from the long end, roll up jellyroll style. Place seam side down on a grease baking sheet, cover with a damp tea towel, and let rise 30-45 minutes, or until doubled.
  4. Before bread is done rising, preheat oven to 400° F so that it will be hot when bread is finished rising.
  5. (optional: whisk one egg white with one tablespoon water until slightly foamy. Using a pastry brush, brush egg white mixture onto loaf.)
  6. Make 3-4 diagonal slashes on top of loaf, using a sharp knife.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes

The high oven temperature is essential. Use 425° F for an even browner crust. Make sure the oven is fully heated before you bake your bread.

This bread has very little fat/sugar, so it doesn't keep long. Freeze what you won't use in a day or two.

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Em

Saturday 4th of September 2021

I just did a double batch with only 2 t of yeast (I was trying to do a longer rise for flavor). It took probably an hour to rise. Next time I'm going to try with only 1 t for the double batch. I'm trying to get to 4-5 hours on the first rise.

Lindsay

Monday 26th of July 2021

I have made this bread so many times in the last few weeks. I was initially skeptical but it was very easy and delicious. I used KAF bread flour (because I already had it on hand). My daughter loves a slice straight from the oven - with butter of course! Thanks for a keeper of a recipe!

Kristen

Monday 26th of July 2021

Oh yes, I especially love the crusty end piece, hot from the oven, with butter. So heavenly!

I'm really glad you are enjoying the recipe.

claude Trahan

Saturday 19th of June 2021

My gosh some of the best French Bread ever! Cheaper than dirt. Thanks for this great recipe.

Jay Gray

Sunday 28th of March 2021

Disappointed with first attempt, will try again!

Kristen

Sunday 28th of March 2021

I'm sorry to hear that! If you want any trouble shooting help, just let me know what went wrong and I can try to assist.

Ellen

Sunday 7th of March 2021

I love this recipe. I make it 2 loaves at a time and freeze the extra. Thank you!

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